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November 29, 2006

But Did Anyone Tell His Political Advisors?

I don't know how this process works, but Mitt Romney has named his two primary economic advisors for the 2008 campaign, and, to his credit, they're proponents of, quite arguably, the most politically radioactive ideas in economics. Greg Mankiw's current obsession is a significant gasoline tax, a policy he's so committed to he's created a Facebook group to promote it. Meanwhile, Glenn Hubbard provided crucial backup support when Mankiw admitted that outsourcing was good for the economy -- a position that doesn't play so well in The Rust Belt.

In a weird way, both these moves speak well of Romney. Mankiw's "Pigou tax" obsession is arguable policy, but it's an undoubtedly serious -- and even unpopular -- attempt to deal with a profound threat. And taking a fatalistic view of outsourcing, while again up for debate (which I'll leave to Dean Baker), is at least ideologically honest. Both these guys are serious about policy -- more so, in fact, than they are about politics. And Romney's willingness to embrace them, impolitic statements and all, is evidence that there's a current of such seriousness in him, too.

As further evidence, I did a story on Romney's role in passing health reform awhile back. I concluded that he didn't deserve nearly so much of the credit as he'd been given, but even though the outcome was rather predetermined, everyone involved had honest and lavish praise for Romney's attentiveness to the policy issues and willingness to run an open and honest process -- a welcome change from the current occupant of the White House.

November 29, 2006 in Election 2008 | Permalink


Yeah but he wears skidmarked Mormom underpants or something. I read about it on Andrew Sullivan's sight. Seriously, Romney's for real. I think people who say he can't make it through South Carolina and other primary places are overstating both the power and intolerance of conservative Christians. Or course, he wouldn't stand a chance if a good "real" Christian conservative emerged, but there ain't one at this point: Brownback? Ha. Huckabee? Ho. Gingrich? Hee Hee.

Posted by: david mizner | Nov 29, 2006 5:26:55 PM

My post-06 election resolution is the always use Romney's full name, or just the first and last:
Willard Mitt Romney, or Willard Romney. But Willard is his first name, whether he likes it or not - it is appropriate to use it (Has he been ashamed to honestly use his given name, political winner that it is?)

As pointed out here , Romney should have a 'cross' to bare like George Felix Allen did late in his campaign.

Since Willard did some pretty smooth changes of position along his way to being a candidate for Pres, it seems appropriate to join the ankle-biters in labelling him Slick Willard: "Now the question becomes: As “Slick Willard” Romney seeks the presidency of the United States, would he even have won reelection in his “home” state?"

My guess is that running in the GOP primary - needing to feed the neo-cons on foreign policy and the theo-cons on domestic policy, will fully earn him the title of Slick Willard. Even some 'serious thinkers' about economics (who have deaf ears to political nuance) won't help cover up the slithering Willard will need to do to make some headway.

But his 700 radio stations just purchased by his firm (Bain) from Clear Channel may make his bullhorn somewhat louder, though Slick Willard may have to explain why it is in the public interest to have a presidential candidate control that much public spectrum.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 29, 2006 5:33:58 PM

Both these guys are serious about policy

Maybe so, but it's still horrible policy. Hubbard was the architect and cheerleader-in-chief of the Bush tax cuts, especially the 2003 incarnation. I suppose hiring on a supply-side fanatic is par for the course among Republicans, but it doesn't seem like very good news...

Posted by: Brad Plumer | Nov 29, 2006 5:42:31 PM

Doesn't Romney have a son named "Tagg"?

Let's see how high-minded and serious Romney's campaign is when it gets to South Carolina. I suspect he'll be dusting off photos of McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter rather than extolling the wonders of outsourcing.

Posted by: Chris | Nov 29, 2006 6:52:11 PM

Not that it would be good for Democrats. But nominating Mitt Romney would give a Republican party in danger of becoming a rump southern regional party some much needed credit outside the south. Yes of course a lot of his ideas would be terrible, he's not a republican so he can meet women, but would be a step closer towards the mid-western/northeastern republicanism of old, and do much good for a party that's increasingly viewed as too southern & too socially conservative.

Posted by: DRR | Nov 29, 2006 7:37:17 PM

Both these guys are serious about policy -- more so, in fact, than they are about politics

You haven't been reading Brad DeLong. Mankiw is not serious about policy; during his period as CEA chair he was more than willing to put his name parroting happy-talk about the economy. Now, that's what you have to do to get in the room, but at some point, the charade has to stop.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Nov 29, 2006 8:14:48 PM

Mankiw didn't actually create the Facebook group. He's listed as the "Founder" as an officer in the group, but a UPenn student created the Facebook group itself.

Posted by: Joel W | Nov 29, 2006 8:35:40 PM

Can we stop calling what Romney did "reform"? He required (most) employers to provide health insurance, and if they don't they get fined about the cost of a month or health insurance -- annually! Big whoop. At best, this is a windfall for for-profit health insurers as they receive more business as usual. Any plan that requires employer based health insurance is NOT universal because children don't have employers. The unemployed don't have employers. The self-employed don't have employers. The irony is that the current top item on this very blog is about the cost of health insurance to small companies, and how this is even worse for new small companies.

Oh and then the Massachusetts legislation imposed a fine for anybody who can't get insurance. Way to kick someone when they're down while claiming to be helping them.

I am sorry if my tone seems harsh. However, unless we tell the truth about this program, in 2008 we will be hearing about how "universal health is a proven failure" when no such thing is true.

Posted by: ShortWoman | Nov 30, 2006 11:49:17 AM

Mitt Romney has every chance of being his party's Michael Dukakis, right down to the part about proving that a Governor of Massachusetts is too much of a unicorn for anywhere else.

People who say Mitt's (I can't say "Willard" yet, but I'll get there) Mormonism won't be an issue are perhaps unaware of just how weird Mormon tenets are (try a week in Salt Lake City, or find a nearby Mormon Visitor Center, or let a Mormon missionary into your home and ask questions. Ask a lot of questions). The more people know, the less likely his success will be. Some realistic Republicans already get that, which is why his support is at best very mixed.

That said, I can see a scenario in which the party Solons decide that they need a geographic to fix what ails them. But that's the Dukakis theory writ large - place will solve everything else. And trust us when we say that doesn't work. Boy does that not work.

Posted by: weboy | Nov 30, 2006 2:55:58 PM

I've heard of a really weird religion that teaches that an all-powerful being decided to create a whole lot of other stuff, even though He was complete, and that included people he then kept mostly in the dark about his reasons. He actually came to earth, of all places in the universe, as a human, or sort of, and was killed. Except that since He's actually three all-powerful beings, he didn't cease to live but just joined back up with the other two. Who are really just one. And because He was killed, we all get to live after death.

But hey, that's not as weird as this other story I heard. According to some really freaky people, solid things are actually made mostly of space (really!), and the space is curved so that parallel lines don't meet (like that makes sense!), and if you go faster in this space time slows down, and whether something happens or not depends on what happens later.

People believe the strangest things.

Posted by: Sanpete | Nov 30, 2006 10:40:14 PM

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